Sawant Smackdown at City Hall – Obscene allegations made against Israel
Serving as president pro-tem, Kshama Sawant opened up today’s council briefing with an overbearing lecture on the evils of global imperialism. As Sawant segued into presenting her now infamous anti-Israel letter for endorsement by the council, councilmember Sally Clark interrupted Sawant curtly informing her she would not be signing her letter and to take her name off the signature page. Councilmember Gooden quickly followed suit saying “I will not be signing this letter and I do not believe it reflects my views”. Sally Bagshaw offered a prepared statement informing Sawant that we are elected to govern in the city of Seattle and not to delve into the complexities of international relations”. She went on to explain that “my goal is that our discourse not evolve into us versus them, we are better than that” Bagshaw frowned that the language of the letter seemed “designed to shut down constructive debate”.
The Sawant smackdown continued with council member Tom Rasmussen struggling (ineffectively) to conceal his disdain as he remarked that “the first thing I would like to remind the council member is that we are a non-partisan body, let’s not compromise that. Secondly council briefings generally are to talk about legislation and city issues that are before the council. The more we stray from that, the more we’re going to sound like a show and tell of a fifth grade class, starting to share articles and news bulletins from around the world. I’d like us to stick more to the legislation that is here before us, that is what briefings and meetings are for.”
The friendliest voice of rejection was offered by councilmember Nick Licata. Licata expressed his angst over the bombing of UN facilities, he said that considering the United States relationship with Israel, we may have some culpability in that. He told Sawant that he believes a discussion on the situation should take place but that Congress was the proper forum for that discussion. Sawant latched onto Licata’s soft rejection, noting that “Israel is the biggest recipient of military aid” asserting that the war in Gaza is hence a local issues “and that does effect cities like Seattle, we are struggling for federal aid”.
Sawant struggled to regain her footing, spouting formulaic platitudes about imperialism and that we must have the conversation at the local level “If congress were doing it’s job I wouldn’t feel it necessary to weigh in on this issue”.
Sawant responded to accusations by council members of uncivil behavior saying that this issue “is being approached in my opinion in a spirit of mutual respect”. Showing a remarkable disregard of the impact that dozens of anti-Semitic images, including swastikas and blood libel posters have had on Seattle’s Jewish community, Sawant made the assertion that “all of the protesters at Westlake have been extremely respectful.” This will come as a shock to the Jewish Federation and ADL who have both condemned the raw, bigoted anti-Semitic signs and banners that have been on display at Westlake this past month.
With no fellow council member signatures and no support, Sawant informed a group of about 30 anti-Israel activists at that afternoon’s full council meeting that there would be no public discussion of the issue. Councilmember Nick Licata stepped in to make a motion that representatives from the pro-Hamas contingent in attendance be permitted to speak and with that he opened up the floodgates of hate. Perhaps we should be indebted to councilmember Licata for unwittingly exposing the grim underbelly of Jew hatred simmering under the polite Seattle facade.
First to speak in support of councilmember Sawant was professor Nada Elia of Seattle’s Antioch University, we have written about her previously here.
Elia made the obscene comparison of Palestinians in Gaza to Jews trapped by their Nazi tormentors in the Warsaw ghetto. “I want to speak specifically of the besieged Jews of the Warsaw ghetto” Elia told the council. “The Nazis had calculated the calories to keep the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto barely alive but not thriving, today Israel is doing the same with Gaza, allowing only strictly rationed food inside the strip, putting the Gazans on a diet as one Israeli politician said”.
In fact, in an unprecedented act of humanitarianism Israel has shipped hundreds of tons of food, medicine and other supplies to the citizens of Gaza, this despite the fact that the Hamas government of Gaza is in a declared state of war with the Jewish state. Israel has made efforts to restrict military and dual use products from Gaza but has at times bowed to international pressure to relax those standards. As a result tons of cement delivered by Israel to Gaza for the construction of homes, schools and hospitals was instead redirected to the building of terror tunnels. Despite the current conflict, Israel has continued shipping, foodstuffs and other essentials, even medical personnel, hampered only by direct attacks on the border crossing by Hamas terrorists.
Professor Elia went on to make the mind-boggling assertion that the terror tunnels dug by Hamas are no different from tunnels dug by Jews in the Nazi besieged Warsaw ghetto. Said Elia “The Warsaw Jews built tunnels to survive, residents of Gaza have had to do the same. Israel calls these terror tunnels but in fact” lied Elia “not one of these tunnels have been used for a terror attack, they are used to smuggle in essential products for the survival of the besieged population.”
While it is true that tunnels dug from Gaza into Egypt were at one time used to smuggle food and weapons into the terror controlled enclave, these conduits have since been sealed by the Egyptian government. Tunnels dug into Israel have only been constructed for the sole purpose of attempted assaults on Israeli civilians and soldiers alike. Elia is eager to make the despicable comparison of Jews to their Nazi murderers but casts no such aspersions against Egypt who have sealed off the border, permitting the transit of virtually no foodstuffs or supplies and limiting civilian traffic to a trickle.
Professor Elia continued “Eventually the Warsaw ghetto Jews rose up in armed rebellion, the Nazi forces invaded and the besieged Jews were defeated. Tens of thousand were killed or sent to concentration camps, do we want this to happen in Gaza because we in Seattle don’t deal with international issues?”
Anti-Israel activist Linda Bevis echoed Elia’s slander that Israel was intentionally starving, bombing and tormenting the people of Gaza. She referred to Hamas terrorists as activists and freedom fighters.
A very animated Jennifer James followed Bevis “you know what Israel is doing? they’re not defending themselves” she accused. James went on to assert “There’s a group that meets in Tel Aviv and decides how to really punish the Gazans so they don’t give them coriander because it’s a favorite spice, they don’t want the women to have sanitary napkins, they don’t let in shampoo as if somebody is making bombs with shampoo. They go down the list and decide, just as in the Warsaw ghetto how to make people suffer”
Representatives of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an anti-Israel organization founded for the purpose of immunizing anti-Israel radicals from allegations of Jew hatred followed Bevis to the city council microphone. The group of five were dressed in identical black T-shirts with the words “Shut Down Israel’s War Machine” printed in white lettering.
Speaking for JVP was BDS activist Eliana Horn who after giving her Jewish bonafides as a descendent of Holocaust survivors urged “the council to reconsider and sign on to councilmember Sawant’s letter” calling for censure of Israel. She alleged that “Israel has committed war crimes in the recent attack on Gaza–crimes that would not be possible without the backing of our government”. She quickly pivoted towards excusing the rancid Jew hatred displayed by the the pro-Hamas activists here in Seattle.
Said Horn “When people of conscience take a stand and condemn Israel for carrying out atrocities against Palestinians, they are too often accused of anti-Semitism. This accusation is meant to intimidate and paralyze critics from calling out injustice when they see it. It cheapens the concept of anti-Semitism, which still exists, by applying it falsely to those who are appalled by the Israeli state’s policies of apartheid and violence, and their devastating results. Falsely naming anti-Semitism as an excuse for inaction on this issue is an insult to my ancestors who were persecuted for being Jewish.
Using her Jewish background as a bludgeon with which to demonize Israel, Horn concluded “Judaism requires us to speak out against injustice, and so we ask you to continue to ensure that our city stands on the right side of history. We ask you to sign onto Councilmember Sawant’s letter calling on our government to issue a formal statement denouncing Israel’s siege and blockade of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank, and calling for an immediate end to all U.S. military aid to Israel.”
After the anti-Israel activists had their say and the council moved on to more mundane matters, one person in the audience objected, saying that no pro-Israel voices had been allowed to speak, he was ignored. The council members soldiered on with the day’s agenda, addressing issues like the Cheasty Greenspace and sewage infrastructure while the anti-Israel activists repeatedly disrupted the meeting.
- Anti-Israel testimony at City Council 08/11/2014
- Full City Council Meeting of 08/11/2014
- City Council Briefing and Sawant Smackdown 08/11/2014 18:09 to 27:02 (Thanks AFE)